ADVERTISEMENT

A Cheektowaga woman convicted 17 years ago of embezzling $120,000 from her Buffalo employer pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing nearly $92,000 from other city-based companies where she worked as a bookkeeper.

Marilee Leach, 60, of Walden Avenue, admitted stealing $52,419 by writing unauthorized checks to herself between Dec. 31, 2007 and Nov. 15, 2012, while working for Harbour Place Marine Sales at 2192 Niagara St.

She also admitted that she took money from Acqua Restaurant and Banquets, also at 2192 Niagara, between May 25, 2011 and Dec. 9, 2012.

She signed a confession of judgment for $39,515 for William Koessler, the owner of Acqua, who also owns Classic Events at the Lafayette, which runs the banquet rooms at the Hotel @ the Lafayette downtown.

The judgment covers about $26,000 she took from Acqua and $13,000 she stole from Classic Events, where she also worked as bookkeeper, according to John C. Doscher, chief of the Special Investigations and Prosecution Bureau in the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.

Doscher said Leach has repaid the $52,419 she stole from Harbour Place Marine and plans to repay the money she took from Koessler’s businesses by the time she is sentenced.

Molly Koessler, wife of William Koessler, said Leach was fired from Acqua and Classic Events last December when the thefts were discovered.

She said Leach was arrested when she returned from a trip.

She said Leach took lavish trips around the world four or five times a year.

She said Leach was hired in May 2011 after the Koesslers took over the former Harry’s Harbour Place Grille. She said Leach had been bookkeeper for Harry’s and that the previous owner had raved about her.

The Koesslers were not aware of her 1996 conviction in U.S. District Court in Buffalo for stealing $120,000 from Belmont Management/Belmont Construction, which is based on Broadway and manages government-subsidized housing and apartments for low-income senior citizens and families. Leach served one year in federal prison.

In the latest case, Leach faces up to 14 years in state prison when she is sentenced on two counts of third-degree grand larceny by State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia, according to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.

email: jstaas@buffnews.com